SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — California public health officials announced Thursday that all health care workers in the state will be required to be fully vaccinated or get their second dose of the coronavirus vaccine by Sept. 30.
The new order modifies an earlier order by the state that required health care workers to be either vaccinated or provide a negative test once a week.
Thursday's update also requires that any guests at California hospitals be either fully vaccinated or provide a negative COVID-19 test taken within the last 72 hours before indoor visits.
California is the first state in the nation to issue such a requirement for its health care workers. The changes come as the delta variant of the virus leads to increased cases, hospitalizations, and ICU cases in California.
"As we continue to see an increase in cases and hospitalizations due to the Delta variant of COVID-19, it’s important that we protect the vulnerable patients in these settings," said Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer. "Today’s action will also ensure that health care workers themselves are protected. Vaccines are how we end this pandemic."
The order will apply to workers in hospitals, nursing facilities, and in most other health care settings. A full list of facilities in the order can be found here.
The only health care workers who will not be required to get the vaccine will be those who have been granted an exemption based on religious beliefs or medical reasons.
According to state public health officials, as of August 3, local health departments have reported 116,919 confirmed positive cases in health care workers and 483 deaths in California.
The state's rise in cases, though, has largely been attributed to unvaccinated residents, according to officials. For the week of July 31, the average case rate among unvaccinated Californians was 33 per 100,000 per day and the average case rate among vaccinated Californians was 7 per 100,000 per day.
Public health officials add that the overwhelming majority of new cases are among the unvaccinated, with 600% higher case rates among the unvaccinated than for those who are vaccinated.